This car is horrible to drive.
Through no fault of my own I'm driving a rental Vauxhall Insignia. I wish I wasn't.
It's apparently a "like for like" replacement for my Skoda Octavia vRS. Now, of course, the Skoda's not the most wonderful car on the market - but actually it turns in great JD Power satisfaction results year after year and frankly, is a big-smile-of-joy to drive.
Not so the Vauxhall. Within 30 seconds I disliked this car. Within 10 minutes I hated it. Let me catalogue a few of the failings.
Ergonomics and usability
I expect to get in a car and figure out to use it in 30 seconds. Consider me new-fashioned but that's the way of the busy modern world. And I design voice user interfaces.
I can barely begin to catalogue the ergonimic failings of this car - some verging on dangerous. But here are a few:
- Hard to adjust wallowy seat with very hard lumbar support and a bizzare combination of manual and poorly-labelled electric controls.
- Overloaded with controls of poor design. An example being the "turnable" controls (e.g. for trip computer) on the fingertip stalks. Not only is this type of control hard to location and control accurately (turning motion on the stalk can be prone to operate the stalk in other unintentional directions) but more importantly, you can't fingertip control them - you have to take your hand completely off the wheel to operate. (In contrast, in the Octy, every steering and stalk control can be operated by finger tip). You can see one such control in the picture below.
I can't decide which of the next two failings are the most ludicrous and/or dangerous.
- First is the console control panel for the audio sytem. A swathe of indistinct plastic which at its biggest is 7 buttons wide by 5 buttons high. Yes, that's right 7 BUTTONS WIDE x 5 BUTTONS HIGH. Why on earth does it need so many buttons? This car doesn't even have extra features like electric seats or bluetooth. And if it does need so many buttons, why do they have to be so unfriendly, badly labelled and hard to navigate by touch.
You really have to take your eyes off the road to operate this.
- Perhaps the piece de resistance, however, is the insane placement of the gear indication on the automatic gear stalk. When the gears are in use it is completely obsucured from the driver! As a result of this I accidentally selected reverse at one set of traffic lights when I was aiming to select neutral. And there is no indication of the gear the car has selected in the driver's display. The whole set up is dangerous to the point of negligence. I've created a superimposed photo below of the gearstick in two positions, showing how in use it blocks the gear markings.
Woolly and indistinct. You can't really tell how hard you are pressing the brakes, and the steering wheel connects with the road as if through a bungee cord. In fact, it's so like a bungee cord, when you turn a corner the steering is threatening to rip itself out of your hands to return to centre. It actually feels dangerous. Feel the road? No - all I can feel is my heartbeat panicking.
Visibility and Functionality
horrible visibility out the narrow back window, with huge 'C' pillars - made worse by a pointy boot that you can't see the end of.
Speaking of the boot - it's deep but loses so much width due to needlessly fat rear wings. What makes it worse is the pointed boot lip. But even worse is the non-flat floor. It has so many ridges and "shelves" that it's more like the floor of the Atlantic ocean.
Overall? A triumph of form over function